Whisky Advocate’s 22nd Annual Blended/Blended Malt Scotch Whisky of the Year AwardDecember 10th, 2015
Blue Hanger 11th Limited Release, 45.6%, £89
Blends spun off in different directions this year. Johnnie Walker Select Cask Rye Cask Finish and Dewar’s Scratched Cask aimed to shift their flavor profile toward an American whiskey style. That Boutique-y Whisky Company launched highly accomplished blends in release sizes no larger than a single cask bottling. Douglas Laing completed their Remarkable Regional Malts range of blended malts, crowned by a special cask strength version of Scallywag. A strong contender for this award was the glorious blended grain whisky Hedonism Quindecimus from Compass Box. Variety and innovation marked this out as a notable year for good blends.
This year’s victor, however, is a marvelous blended malt whisky put together by Doug McIvor for Berry Brothers & Rudd that oozes with quality. Whisky Advocate ratings for Blue Hanger bottlings frequently exceed 90 points, the 6th release was a previous recipient of this award, and this 11th release has conquered with its charming personality showing through the layered complexity of the blend. The experience is drenched with citrus intensity, but a spectrum of other fruity flavors ricochets around the mouth: peach juice, mandarin, pineapple cubes, and lemon zest revealed in seemingly endlessly changing moments. A firm, unctuous finish shows a little charred wood and dark sugar cloaked in fine smoke. Doug McIvor’s talent for picking and blending exceptional single casks has not gone unnoticed, and this Blue Hanger 11th release is a masterful accomplishment. —Jonny McCormick